A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
Talk about the collapse and apocalyps tends to be gloomy, but listen to Willian James writing in 1906 about the Frisco Earthquake and you know that the 'crash' might actually give us all a 'cheerful' face :
I went through the city again eight days later. The fire was out, and about a quarter of the area stood unconsumed. Intact skyscrapers dominated the smoking level majestically and superbly--they and a few walls that had survived the overthrow. Thus has the courage of our architects and builders received triumphant vindication!
The inert elements of the population had mostly got away, and those that remained seemed what Mr. H. G. Wells calls "efficients." Sheds were already going up as temporary starting-points of business. Every one looked cheerful, in spite of the awful discontinuity of past and future, with every familiar association with material things dissevered; and the discipline and order were practically perfect.
As these notes of mine must be short, I had better turn to my more generalized reflections.
Two things in retrospect strike me especially, and are the most emphatic of all my impressions. Both are reassuring as to human nature.
The first of these was the rapidity of the improvisation of order out of chaos. It is clear that just as in every thousand human beings there will be statistically so many artists, so many athletes, so many thinkers, and so many potentially good soldiers, so there will be so many potential organizers in times of emergency. In point of fact, not only in the great city, but in the outlying towns, these natural ordermakers, whether amateurs or officials, came to the front immediately. There seemed to be no possibility which there was not some one there to think of, or which within twenty-four hours was not in some way provided for.
Add a Comment